Britain expelled nine Iranians on security grounds as Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ridiculed the 12-nation European Community for allowing its ambassadors to return to Tehran after withdrawing them over the Salman Rushdie affair.

The Soviet Union said Wednesday its mediation efforts played a part in the softening of the EC stance toward Iran.The EC withdrew its senior envoys from Tehran for consultations a month ago in solidarity with Britain's condemnation of a death threat issued by Khomeini against the British writer of the novel "The Satanic Verses."

The Europeans, who want to maintain contacts to secure a share in Iran's lucrative postwar reconstruction, agreed Monday to allow their ambassadors to return to Tehran but not to hold high-level meetings with Iranian officials until the decree is lifted.

Rushdie remains in hiding in Britain.

Khomeini made fun of the European countries for abandoning their position.

"Maybe they had not predicted such shame and disgrace in the process of achieving their ominous aim," Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted Khomeini as saying.

"Today, they are returning humili-ated, disgraced and in wretches, regretful of what they did," Khomeini said.

For the first time since he accepted a cease-fire in the war with Iraq last summer, Khomeini said his decade-old Islamic revolution is the starting point of "the great global Islamic revolution."

"Our officials know that our revolution is not limited to Iran . . . the revolution of the Iranian people is the starting point of the great global Islamic revolution," Khomeini was quoted as saying.

The British Home Office Wednesday ordered nine Iranians to leave Britain, raising to 18 the number of Iranians told to leave since Tehran broke relations with London March 7 over the Rushdie dispute.

The latest expulsions include two former staff members at the Iranian Embassy and Iranian students, a Home Office spokesman said. None of the Iranians were identified. The nine Iranians, cited as security risks by the Home Office, have until Monday to leave or face deportation.

"Normal relations between Great Britain and Iran must depend on Iran's renunciation of the use of violence against our citizens," the Home Office spokesman said. "We are keeping the actions of other Iranians under close scrutiny."

Britain has withdrawn its diplomatic staff from its embassy in Tehran and appointed Sweden to take care of its interests in the Iranian capital.